The compact SUV market is a highly competitive segment, offering a variety of stylish, capable, and feature-packed options for potential buyers. Two of the most popular contenders in this segment are the 2023 Subaru Forester and the Mazda CX-5. Both vehicles have their unique strengths and appeal to different types of drivers.
In this article, we’ll dive into the details of each model, exploring its design, performance, and practicality to help you decide which compact SUV is the right fit for you.
The 2023 Subaru Forester and Mazda CX-5 both sport distinctive and appealing designs that will undoubtedly turn heads. The Forester features a rugged and muscular appearance, with aggressive lines and a high ground clearance. It’s designed to handle off-road adventures and inclement weather conditions with ease.
The Mazda CX-5, on the other hand, offers a more elegant and refined design. Its sleek lines, low stance, and well-proportioned body give it a sporty and sophisticated look that appeals to urban dwellers. Ultimately, the choice between the two comes down to your personal preference for a rugged or refined exterior.
Stepping inside these compact SUVs, you’ll notice significant differences in their interiors. The Subaru Forester offers a practical, durable, and comfortable cabin. With its easy-to-read gauges, intuitive controls, and soft-touch materials, the Forester is designed to make you feel at ease on any journey.
The Mazda CX-5, in contrast, has a more luxurious and upscale interior. Its cabin features premium materials, including leather and soft-touch surfaces, as well as a modern and stylish design. The CX-5’s dashboard and center console are well-organized, giving the interior a clean and elegant look. The choice between these two vehicles in this category comes down to whether you prioritize functionality or luxury.
Both the Subaru Forester and Mazda CX-5 offer comfortable seating for up to five passengers. The Forester’s seats provide ample support, with plenty of headroom and legroom for both front and rear passengers. Additionally, the Forester’s higher seating position offers excellent visibility.
The CX-5’s seats are more sculpted and supportive, providing a more premium feel. Rear legroom is slightly more limited in the CX-5 compared to the Forester, but overall, both vehicles deliver satisfactory seating comfort for long drives and daily commutes.
When it comes to storage, the 2023 Subaru Forester takes the lead. With its spacious cargo area and clever storage solutions, it offers a total of 74.3 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded down. The Mazda CX-5, while still offering a respectable cargo area, lags behind with 59.6 cubic feet of space.
Both vehicles come with roof rails for additional storage, but the Forester’s larger cargo capacity makes it more suitable for those who require extra space for outdoor adventures or family road trips.
The Subaru Forester and Mazda CX-5 are engineered to deliver enjoyable driving experiences. The Forester comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 182 horsepower, and its standard all-wheel drive ensures excellent traction and handling in all weather conditions.
The Mazda CX-5 offers two engine options: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 187 horsepower and an optional 2.5-liter turbocharged engine producing 250 horsepower. The CX-5 is available in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, providing a sportier driving experience with its more powerful engine options.
Fuel economy is an essential factor for many buyers, and both the Subaru Forester and Mazda CX-5 perform admirably in this category. The 2023 Forester offers an EPA-estimated 26 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, making it an efficient choice for a compact SUV with standard all-wheel drive.
The Mazda CX-5, with its base 2.5-liter engine and front-wheel drive, achieves an EPA-estimated 25 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. Opting for the more powerful turbocharged engine or all-wheel drive will reduce fuel economy slightly. Ultimately, the Forester has a slight edge in fuel efficiency, but both vehicles are competitive in their class.
Both the 2023 Subaru Forester and Mazda CX-5 are committed to keeping drivers and passengers safe. The Forester comes standard with Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, which includes features like adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, and lane-keep assist. Additionally, the Forester has received top safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The Mazda CX-5 also boasts a strong safety record, with numerous standard safety features, such as automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning. Like the Forester, the CX-5 has received high safety ratings from both the IIHS and NHTSA. Ultimately, both vehicles provide excellent safety features and crash-test ratings, ensuring peace of mind for drivers and passengers.
The Subaru Forester and Mazda CX-5 are available in various trim levels, allowing buyers to select the features and options that best suit their needs and budgets. The 2023 Forester comes in five trim levels: Base, Premium, Sport, Limited, and Touring. Each trim offers an increasing level of comfort, convenience, and technology features, such as heated seats, a power liftgate, and a premium audio system.
The Mazda CX-5 is available in four main trim levels: Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, and Signature. As with the Forester, each trim level offers progressively more luxurious and high-tech features, including leather upholstery, a head-up display, and a premium Bose audio system. Both vehicles offer a wide range of options to suit various budgets and preferences.
Pricing for the 2023 Subaru Forester starts at around $25,000 for the base model and goes up to around $35,000 for the top-of-the-line Touring trim. The Mazda CX-5 has a slightly higher starting price of around $26,000 for the Sport trim, with the range-topping Signature trim reaching around $38,000. It’s worth noting that the more powerful turbocharged engine option in the CX-5 comes at a premium.
Interior Design & Storage:
The Forester offers a practical, functional cabin with durable materials, while the CX-5 boasts a more upscale and luxurious interior with premium materials and a stylish design.
The Subaru has a significant advantage in cargo capacity, offering 74.3 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded, compared to the CX-5’s 59.6 cubic feet.
Performance & Fuel Efficiency:
The Mazda CX-5 offers more powerful engine options and a sportier driving experience, while the Forester delivers a capable performance with its standard all-wheel drive system.
The Subaru Forester has a slight edge in fuel efficiency, with EPA-estimated ratings of 26 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. The CX-5, with its base engine and front-wheel drive, achieves 25 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.
In summary, the 2023 Subaru Forester and Mazda CX-5 both stand out as strong contenders in the compact SUV market. Each vehicle brings its unique strengths to the table, with the Forester offering a rugged design, practical interior, and spacious storage, while the CX-5 provides a more refined and luxurious experience with its stylish exterior, upscale cabin, and sporty performance.
When choosing between these two vehicles, it’s essential to consider your priorities and preferences, such as design, cargo space, performance, and fuel efficiency. By taking the time to evaluate each model’s offerings and taking them for a test drive, you can confidently make the right decision and drive home in the compact SUV that best suits your lifestyle.
- Exterior Design:
- Rugged, muscular appearance
- High ground clearance for off-road capability
- Interior Design:
- Practical, durable, and comfortable cabin
- Intuitive controls and soft-touch materials
- Comfortable seating for up to five passengers
- Ample headroom and legroom
- Higher seating position for improved visibility
- Spacious cargo area with 74.3 cubic feet of space with rear seats folded
- Clever storage solutions and roof rails
- 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 182 horsepower
- Standard all-wheel drive for excellent traction and handling
- Fuel Efficiency:
- EPA-estimated 26 mpg city and 33 mpg highway
- Standard EyeSight Driver Assist Technology
- Top safety ratings from IIHS and NHTSA
- Trim Levels:
- Base, Premium, Sport, Limited, and Touring
- Starting at around $25,000 for the base model, up to around $35,000 for the Touring trim
- Exterior Design:
- Sleek, elegant appearance
- Sporty and sophisticated look
- Interior Design:
- Upscale, luxurious cabin
- Premium materials and stylish design
- Sculpted, supportive seats for up to five passengers
- Slightly more limited rear legroom compared to Forester
- Respectable cargo area with 59.6 cubic feet of space with rear seats folded
- Roof rails for additional storage
- Base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 187 horsepower
- Optional 2.5-liter turbocharged engine with 250 horsepower
- Front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive options
- Fuel Efficiency:
- EPA-estimated 25 mpg city and 31 mpg highway for base engine and front-wheel drive
- Numerous standard safety features, including automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control
- High safety ratings from IIHS and NHTSA
- Trim Levels:
- Sport, Touring, Grand Touring, and Signature
- Starting at around $26,000 for the Sport trim, up to around $38,000 for the Signature trim